Fairfax County Park Authority (FCPA) officials have detailed some of the draft conclusions of a study focused on the future of dog parks in the county, and are seeking community feedback.
The Park Authority conducted a dog-park survey in late 2019 that garnered more than 4,600 responses. According to the 141-page draft study report, FCPA should:
• Use park bonds to finance construction of at least one new dog park by 2025. The site’s location should be selected from the county’s list of planned dog parks that have not been built.
• Use an updated process for siting dog parks and base decisions on geographic distribution of the parks by planning district and by density of licensed dogs in various areas. The parks should be within a 20-minute drive inside the county and within a 10-minute walk in densely populated areas.
• Inventory the currently unknown total number of dog parks that are privately owned and publicly accessible.
Seven planning districts – Baileys, Jefferson, Rose Hill, Springfield, McLean, Lincolnia and Lower Potomac – now lack dog parks, although all but the first two have planned, but unbuilt, facilities.
Fairfax County does not have any countywide (or regional) dog parks, which typically are larger than 8 acres and have special amenities. Instead, the county has 13 neighborhood dog parks that are smaller than 2 acres and officials have planned for seven more.
• Consolidate into a single Website all information about the county’s dog parks, the Park Authority’s canine classes and events, volunteer information, donation opportunities and information pertinent to dog owners, such as rabies clinics and required pet vaccinations.
• Coordinate with the county’s Department of Public Works and Environmental Services regarding annual dog-park inspections so that the Park Authority readily may comply with needed stormwater-management improvements.
• Continue to use washed stone dust as its surfacing of choice, because it is durable and needs little maintenance. All of the agency’s canine areas, except for Westgrove Dog Park, use it Officials also should consider using natural turf for enclosed dog areas larger than 3 acres, the study read.
• Reduce slopes and add concrete or timber curbs at dog parks with washed stone dust that have pronounced terrain changes.
• Provide different areas for large dogs in order to separate them from ones that are younger, older or smaller.
• Increase the frequency of maintenance, which will require more funding.
• Restock pet-waste bags and post signage discouraging visitors from taking more bags than needed while at the dog parks.
• Place trash receptacles either inside all the dog parks’ entry corrals or immediately adjacent outside their fences to encourage visitors to dispose of dog waste and allow workers to empty the receptacles without entering the parks.
• Explore additional funding sources, volunteer opportunities and partnerships to improve conditions and maintenance frequency at the dog parks. Upgrades most frequently sought by users include better surface conditions, water sources, rule enforcement and shade.
• Not charge fees or membership dues for dog-park access, as this would discourage usage and would not be in line with other jurisdictions’ practices.
• Post clear signage about rules and etiquette at the dog park, develop a brochure concerning dog handling and behavior, and regularly update information on the dog-park section of FCPA’s Website.
• Provide a single coordination point for all FCPA matters relating to dog parks.
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Park Authority officials will hold an online meeting March 23 at 7 p.m. to get public input on the dog-park study. For information on the meeting and to view the study, see the Website at www.fairfaxcounty.gov/parks/planning-development/dog-park-study.
FCPA will accept comments about the dog-parks study through April 23. The public can e-mail remarks to email@example.com.